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Divers

Divers

Gaze into Kim Keever's sublime artwork for Divers and you will find the album's spirit stitched into its rich swatches of pinks and blues, each colour saturated until you start to feel the heat coming off it. It is dizzyingly beautiful, and though the scene is simple enough, there isn't a single stray patch of canvas wasted.

'Anecdotes' opens the record in much the same way that 'Emily' did for the monumental Ys, all swooping strings and celestial images. But it's 'Leaving The City' that really sets the pulse racing. When the drums arrive unexpectedly, the whole song ruptures into a fierce blizzard, Newsom almost rapping in her attempt to get all the words down. "The harder the hit, the deeper the dent / We seek our name, we seek out fame / In our credentials, paved in glass / Trying to master incidentals," she spits over the beat in dazzling syncopation.

Elsewhere, 'Goose Eggs' offers up a lush country-pop chorus, slide guitar and sass to the fore, perhaps her most radio-friendly track since her Milk-Eyed Mender days. The only real sprawl here arrives with the title track (and that at a relatively spry seven minutes), journeying into one of those inky black, minor key odysseys that pushed her last outing into masterpiece territory.

A briefer affair, then, but it's all here: athletic time signatures, antique diction, mythology and magic. And when those drums come crashing back at the final climax, strings on their side this time, backing vocals calling out the word 'joy' at some ecstatic frequency, you have to stand back and marvel at the sheer scale of what Newsom has created with the finest of brushstrokes.

Matthew Neale

by Now Then Sheffield